The blinding bright light has finally dissipated but the tightening in his chest remained. With the Drag-energist clenched in his hand and eyes fixed at the Mystic Moon, Van let out a deep sigh.

Hitomi is finally gone, and likely for good this time.

Resigning himself to the events that had taken place, Van walked back to the castle. Van's heart felt heavy despite the progress achieved in rebuilding Fanelia

She said that all my wishes will come true… this (Fanelia) is a testament to that but…

Van scratched his head. He knew that Hitomi would've made fun of his childishness at that moment.

Right after Fanelia fell to the hands of Zaibach, he had realized how much he needed to grow as a warrior and as King. He had always sought for his mother's guidance and longed to hear her voice once again. His father ruled proudly and has, for the most part of his short rule, maintained peace in the kingdom and with its neighbours.

Folken, Brother.

Van would always feel a pang at his chest whenever he thought of his brother. At this point, he was sure that he felt nothing but reverence towards him despite holding a pretentious grudge over the years. Van understood too late why his brother chose to leave Van alone; in the end it was for also for his sake that the older Fanel chose to be a sorcerer of Zaibach.

Hitomi, she knew how I truly felt about Folken even I didn't know this myself.

an thought of the friends he made along the arduous path and the sacrifices everyone had to make; the steep price of freedom. Allen Schezar who, despite of their differences, Van acknowledged as a mentor not only in swordsmanship but of manhood, was rebuilding the home he had lost with Celena. Theirs have been a cruel fate but without that same misfortune, how would things have played out up to this point had those siblings lived happier lives? It's as if the fates have been unkind by design so that people of misfortune, attracted by despair, would all be united in that specific crucial moment. Van shuddered at the thought.

Before she left, Hitomi told Van that she would quit fortune-telling. Van understood that Hitomi blamed herself for the bad fortunes that befell Gaea. At the same time, he knew that no amount of explaining could convince her otherwise. Not so long ago, the Zone of Absolute Fortune had taken hold of Van that took him to a bloodthirsty rampage just to defeat the Scheherazade. It was Hitomi who has shown him the light and made him realize that people have the capability to decide for themselves and work against the tides of fate.

Van's thoughts wandered off to Asturia and Freid. Dryden and Millerna have a complex relationship but both are united in ensuring the Capital and its people are provided with enough care. The walls the Prince of Freid needs to climb to rebuild his nation are ridden with strife but his is a strong heart and no one doubts he will exceed his father's expectations.

The people from Gaea are slowly rising from the ashes of war but Van knew in his heart good things don't last. His hope for the future is a world where Escaflowne and Hitomi's powers are not needed.

It will be tough to maintain peace with bare hands and good intentions, but this is a future I and Hitomi believe in. I must not falter.

"Van-samaaaa!"

Van could see Merle running towards him, ever as cheerful. He realized for the first time that no sad fate could ever bring her spirits down. Merle has been his saving grace since he lost is mother./p
p class="MsoNormal"Merle gave him a bear-hug but she winced when a small object brushed against her cheek. It was the necklace Hitomi handed to Van before she left. Van had briefly forgotten that he had been wearing it.

"So Hitomi has returned to the Mystic Moon, huh?"

Van nodded.

From where they stood, they could see the expanse of Kingdom of Fanelia. The sun was setting but they could still make out the silhouette of the mountains that gave the impression of Fanelia being a fortress. Theirs was a land protected by dragons.

I've seen and caused so much bloodshed. All these sins will give me nightmares to last a lifetime.

Sensing the slight change in Van's mood, Merle tightened her grip on his arm.

"We have to do better, Merle."

Merle, unsure of what exactly Van meant, nodded anyway.

Van knew that in order to keep his promise to Balgus, he needs to do whatever it takes to keep Fanelia safe even if that meant keeping the sleeping dragon, Escaflowne, in its restful state. He also knew that to carve a brighter future for his people, he needs to believe in his own power and keep Hitomi safe back in her true home.

Seeing the Mystic Moon shining brightly in the sky left a gaping hole in Van's stomach. He knew his mission as King but at the same time, his thoughts were restless. Bound by duty to his people, his path was clear.

"It's ok, Lord Van."

Confused. Van looked at Merle.

"It's ok to miss her so much that you could feel your heart breaking."

Van thought for a moment then smiled. He just needed to believe that their hearts will continue to be connected, even only by a wish.


Author's notes: I've seen all 26 episodes again and this is the first time I've realized how introverted Van was! His lines were few and were mostly about expressing anger. Given, The Vision of Escaflowne was written from Hitomi's perspective – that didn't stop the other characters from expressing themselves. It was clear, for example, that Allen Schezar had misguided feelings towards Hitomi. Van was purposely made to appear as if there was a brick wall between his true character and the audience, as represented by Hitomi. Hitomi initially wanted Allen to reciprocate her feelings – although Allen's character was pretty aloof when it came to romance, he was by far more vocal compared to Van. Some witty anime editing there.